What is Smile To The Future?
Smile To The Future is a registered Dutch Non-Governmental Organization based in the Netherlands and Belgium with its main office in Maastricht. Our broad mission to build a better tomorrow manifests itself in the three major areas in which we operate: knowledge exchange via international travel programs, partnering with entrepreneurs and businesses in the Limburg area and around the world, and investing in sustainable, innovative projects in developing countries.
How is Smile To The Future making a difference?
There are currently many non-profits going about “trying to save the world” in many different ways, so Smile To The Future has decided to focus on three specific challenges: 1) access to knowledge and professional training, 2) empowering the next wave of entrepreneurs to make their ideas reality, and 3) financial barriers to innovative development projects. For these three challenges, our organization has three answers: 1) international trips that enable flow of knowledge between the parties involved, 2) holding entrepreneurial workshops and partnering with entrepreneurs to develop their businesses, and 3) investing in and promoting innovative poverty solutions. Many of the foundation’s projects address several of these issues simultaneously. In all of our initiatives we aim to promote self-reliance and sustainability that is in line with our values of overcoming feelings of helplessness in the face of difficult circumstances and building a better future – a future we can smile about.
There is no denying the personal, professional, and societal benefits of studying abroad. To quote Mark Twain:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
Travel is one of the best tools to self-improvement and bettering society as a whole. People who have spent time abroad are much more empathetic to the struggles of others, and one of the main missions of Smile To The Future is to inspire people to be more empathetic and give back to those who are less fortunate. Furthermore, studies have shown that employers value experience abroad in potential employees.
Despite all of these benefits, travelling abroad can be complex and expensive – that’s where we come in! With Smile To The Future you have the opportunity to travel for free! In addition, you can ditch the boring excursions that put you to sleep for opportunities to participate in workshops and seminars that will provide you with tangible skills and the chance to meet and exchange ideas with people from all over the world. Find out more about travelling abroad with us here.
The technological developments that have been witnessed over the past few decades are truly amazing. Despite these great advancements that allow much of the world to live comfortably, many people still do not know where their next meal will come from. There are many proposals for how to help those afflicted by poverty. We believe that often times the poor can come up with the solutions to their own problems, but simply do not have access to the necessary resources. That is why our approach is to partner with people in developing countries in a relationship as equals, rather than taking a paternalistic approach, because we believe both parties can learn from each other.
Along with focusing on projects in developing countries, Smile To The Future invests time and resources into supporting social entrepreneurship more locally. Our foundation aims to partner with entrepreneurs who are looking to not only make a profit, but who really have ideas that can improve society. We also coordinate special events for aspiring entrepreneurs – from workshops for high school students who want to understand how a business works to presentations on accounting for those who already are running a business.
How can I get involved?
There are several ways you can support us. We are always looking for new volunteers to help develop our organization so that we can reach more people and more effectively carry out our missions. We also have many development projects that you can contribute to financially. We regularly hold workshops and plan events that you can attend. You can check our website regularly to see the latest events. Be sure to like our Facebook page in order to be informed about our latest events.